Well FCS gang, October starts now, and we all understand that by November? We’ll know a whole helluva lot more about the FCS postseason picture. But the truth is, we already know — by October’s birth — some things about this year.
So who is still undefeated? The following are 4-0 heading into October: Montana, Weber State, Delaware, Holy Cross, Jackson State, and North Carolina Central. Sacramento State is 3-0 with a blowout FBS win and Austin Peay (4-1) is eight points away from 5-0.
BMAC’S FCS POLL BALLOT VOTE GOING INTO OCTOBER: Brian’s week-four vote in the FCS poll.
When it comes to Week Four, we saw an epic FCS Game of the Week clash with South Dakota State and Missouri State down in Springfield, Mo. — with the Jackrabbits continuing to prove they’re consistently one of the consistently elite, top-four FCS programs in the country. SDSU won by 14, but the Bears didn’t make it easy and are still, easily, a Top 10 program in my book.
Why is Missouri State still a Top 10 in my book? Because they scared the crap out of a damned good Arkansas team, leading by 10 points in the 4th quarter before that evil thing called depth came into play and the nationally-ranked SEC team rallied to win late against its former head coach (Bobby Petrino). The Bears also have dispatched UT Martin and Central Arkansas, two teams that could very well turn into automatic playoff berth teams out of the Ohio Valley Conference and ASUN-WAC.
Stay tuned, gang, the Missouri State Bears are no slouch, and SDSU is good. Playoff rematch in the Dakotas with snow, anyone? Merry Christmas.
Sacramento State continues to look good and absolutely hammered a flailing FBS program in Colorado State — the the tune of 31 points. Troy Taylor’s SacState program has been rock solid for a couple of years now, and they traveled to the state of Colorado and are probably celebrating in some kind of fashion as I type. That’s the eighth FCS over FBS win in 2022. Last year the FCS had 12 of these wins.
October and November are for conference matchups, not FBS payout games and non-conference FCS matchups — and October is upon us.
So what was big today? What sets up October the most? Who is trending? Who is surprising us? What’s next? We’ll talk about it below.
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POLL BALLOT ACTION:
I’m only talking about my poll ballot, not the final vote. I so often vastly disagree with the overall poll results that I feel like I should only critique my own vote from last week.
Missouri State and Chattanooga falling this aren’t horrible, but I doubt I’ll change my ballot on them much. If it turns out they get dumped a ton when the poll is released? Trust me, it’s not because of my vote.
Incarnate Word, William & Mary, Eastern Kentucky, Villanova, and Central Arkansas all fell– and that honestly surprises me because those programs are good. But parity is parity and obviously, there are some other strong teams. EKU’s loss to Austin Peay and W&M’s loss to Elon is probably the least shocking of the “surprises”. But let’s chalk this all up to September-itis.
September-itis is a condition we see annually and there is no known cure for. Scratch it a lot and in the morning, call your doctor. Then repeat treatment for the next 50 college football seasons.
Nobody knows what the hell is brewing when we’re still in the September stage.
MVFC AND BIG SKY PARITY (SEEDING DISCUSSION):
I hate to be a broken record, but we’re here again folks.
The MVFC has three legit top-10 schools in North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and Missouri State (and the jury is still out on Southern Illinois, whose first month of play was Jekyll and Hyde-ish yet showed scary potential). The Big Sky also has a top-tier logjam. Montana is clearly at the top right now, but aside from the Griz’s usual in-state blood-bath with MSU? There are other legit threats for Big Sky’s auto bid — and Sac. State’s big win over Colorado State backs up its impressive win over the MVFC’s Northern Iowa in the annual Big Sky-MVFC Challenge.
You’re probably looking (again) at a large chunk of your playoff quarterfinalists above. Heading into October? The only school outside of these two conferences that I think belongs in the elite discussion is first-year coach Ryan Carty’s Delaware team. They’re legit, gang, and let’s state the obvious — Carty’s offensive prowess is showing with the Blue Hens.
THE HBCUs and IVYs:
Who are we kidding? Jackson State is going to go undefeated during the regular season and will roll into the SWAC Championship game on Dec. 3 as massive favorites. The Tigers will be in the Celebration Bowl as an undefeated representative of the SWAC. Though I have to admit, 4-0 North Carolina Central out of the MEAC (clearly the favorite so far) looks as good as it did in 2015 when it went to the Celebration Bowl. Maybe better, even. But hey, it’s September.
When it comes to Jackson State, 2022’s been an amazing transformation of Walter Payton’s alma mater, and it’s cool to see because JSU draws exceptionally well but struggled for years. Do I think in a mythical universe that Jackson State could contend with NDSU? Absolutely not, let’s come back to reality. But could this program be a perennial quarterfinalist in the FCS at least? Potentially. That goes for the Ivy League champion in recent years, but that’s a rant and debate for another date, stay tuned.
OK, I can’t let go of it, I’m a sucker for this level. How badass would a Jackson State matchup with a strong Harvard, Princeton, or Yale team be? Or one of the Montana schools, or one of the Missouri Valley powers? We’ll never know.
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer on that topic, but I digress. But I’m like all you, FCS fans … and all of you, HBCU and Ivy fans (and players, and coaches who I’ve talked to about this topic — off the record), I’d love to see the elite HBCUs and Ivys in the FCS playoffs. Why not? We see it in March Madness hoops, right?
But it won’t happen in 2022 for various reasons — or any time soon (if ever).
BMAC’S BONUS FIVE TALKING POINTS THIS WEEKEND:
1) Southeastern Louisiana really showed up against an Incarnate Word program that was clearly having its best season ever (so far). The Lions beat UIW by one score today in a game that could very well end up settling the Southland Conference’s automatic playoff bid this year. UIW had blown out Southern Illinois and won by double digits against an FBS (Nevada). SoutheASTERN Louisiana has two losses, but both are FBS losses and won’t be held against it. Very interesting situation.
2) Austin Peay’s win over ASUN-WAC conglomerate “rival” Eastern Kentucky was very impressive. The Governors are only a few points away from being the only 5-0 team in the FCS, as the Govs dropped a Week Zero FBS matchup to Eastern Michigan by eight points. Up until the game with former OVC rival EKU, the Govs’ schedule had been very soft, but the Colonels provide a statement win for APSU There’s an automatic playoff bid on the line in the ASUN-WAC, and these former OVC programs are two of the top eligible teams to win it — and APSU just did.
3) Elon under Tony Trisciani is already doing some special things and one has to wonder how much of a factor it’ll be in CAA play as October begins. The Phoenix have had success in recent years, especially with Davis Cheek under center — but this might be the big year to explode onto the scene once again. Just days after Vanderbilt flew out to Hawaii and annihilated the home-standing Rainbows, Elon came to Nashville and gave Vandy absolute fits after a slow Phoenix start. Keep an eye on Elon.
4) Stephen F. Austin hung 98 points in a game on Saturday. Not in one month, but one afternoon. Granted, it was a smaller-school opponent in Warner, but after falling to two FBS teams (transitioning Jacksonville State and Louisiana Tech), it was clear SFA wanted to take it out on somebody. As has been repeated here in this column 5,000 times, this program has done a fantastic job in recruiting in recent years. Now that SFA hits the meat of its ASUN-WAC schedule, how much of a factor can it be?
5) The Patriot League looks more and more like it is a two-bid league for FCS playoff spots, and reminds me more and more of the Colgate-Fordham battles of about six or seven years ago. Holy Cross and Fordham are damned good and proved it again this week. Holy Cross is a legit FCS machine under coach Bob Chesney, has recruited extremely well, and could be a potential FCS quarterfinalist in my opinion. The Crusaders hammered Yale (not easy), beat an FBS (Buffalo), and just hammered a solid league program in Colgate. Fordham had FCS Ohio U. beaten today in an offensive shootout today — but gave up two scores in the final minute of play to miss the Rams’ first FBS win since beating Army with the NFL’s Chase Edmonds leading the way in 2015. .The Rams are legit, they will scare you on offense. That Oct. 29 game when Holy Cross and Fordham play in greater Boston? That’s a massive game and may end up one of the nation’s top FCS game, and there’s a chance the team that falls could still get an at-large bid.
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